Seoul (Agenzia Fides) - "The Apostolic Exhortaion Evangelii Gaudium; holds a unique and cherished place in my heart as my favorite document among the many of the Pope's magisterium. Its profound message resonates deeply with the core values of our faith, emphasizing the need for a renewed commitment to evangelization", says Peter Soon-Taick Chung, OCD, Archbishop of Seoul, to Fides, with a view to the tenth anniversary of the publication of the encyclical on November 24, 2013.
"Evangelii Gaudium - he states - promotes a strong missionary spirit within the Church. In Korea, this spirit has manifested in the increasing involvement of Korean priests and missionaries in international mission work.
The Korean Church has sent a growing number, now exceeding 1,000, of missionaries to various parts of the world, spreading the message of the Gospel and embodying the principles of Evangelii Gaudium".
However, he continues, more could be done: "As Archbishop, I have observed with a heavy heart that the Korean Church currently places less emphasis on missionary outreach than it should. This reality saddens me because the mission is undeniably at the heart of our faith. The call to evangelize, to bring the Good News to all corners of our society, is an essential aspect of our Christian identity", the Archbishop noted, recalling that currently 22 priests of the Archdiocese of Seoul are actively engaged in missionary work in different countries around the world. The Archbishop cites the "Youth Bible Study Movement" within the Archdiocese of Seoul as a concrete example of the apostolate by and for lay people. "It has been one of our most popular programs. Before the challenges posed by the pandemic, this movement drew around 2,000 young people each year", he notes, including young people who did not know the Christian faith, sometimes driven by curiosity and then remained in the movement. "It has provided a platform for young individuals to engage with the Word of God and deepen their understanding of the faith. The movement’s popularity underscores the hunger for spiritual growth among the youth and their openness to embracing the principles of Evangelii Gaudium in their journey of faith".
Monsignor Chung also highlights another important aspect for the life of the Korean Church which, also for cultural reasons, has maintained a rather hierarchical approach over the centuries: "Evangelii Gaudium encourages a more synodal approach within the Church, emphasizing consultation and collaboration. In Korea, this approach has fostered a sense of unity and shared responsibility among clergy and the laity. There is a growing emphasis on listening to the needs and aspirations of the faithful and involving them in decision-making processes". In this sense, the Archbishop reports on his experience during the Synodal Assembly in October at the Vatican: "During this assembly in Rome, I've witnessed the beauty of unity in diversity, as participants from various backgrounds, cultures, and regions have come together to address critical issues facing the Church. The emphasis on listening, mutual respect, and open dialogue has been central to the discussions. One aspect that also stood out to me is the schedule arrangement. Between each session, we have a precious 4 minutes of silence for reflection, which allowed all of us to deeply contemplate the discussions and insights shared, fostering a sense of introspection and enhancing the overall quality of our deliberations.
I am hopeful that the outcomes of our discussions will further inspire and guide the Church in Korea as we navigate the challenges and opportunities in our own context. This synodal experience serves as a reminder of the strength of our faith community and our collective commitment to a better and more just world". (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 14/11/2023)